Does 1 John 3:9 Teach Once Saved, Always Saved?

1 John 3:9 states: "Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God."

Some people in the denominational world state that 1 John 3:9 is a support for their doctrine of "once saved, always saved" [the "P" (Perseverance of the Saints) in the Calvinistic acrostic known as TULIP]. They will say that a child of God cannot sin because he has been born of God and therefore can never be lost. Is that the intended meaning of this passage? Absolutely not.

This doctrine would contradict 1 John 1:7-9, which states that Christians will sin from time to time. Therefore, that cannot be the meaning of the passage.

"Whoever has been born of God does not sin" - John is stating that those who have obeyed the gospel (which included showing a contrite heart of repentance from sin - Acts 2:38; 3:19; Romans 6:1-2) will not continually make a habit to sin. They have turned from a life of sin to a life of righteousness. The present tense helps us to understand that it could be translated: "Whoever has been born of God does not continue sin."

"for His seed remains in him" - What is the seed? It is the word of God that is planted in a good and honest heart (Luke 8:11). A person who allows God's word to flourish in their heart and life will remain faithful to the Lord.

"and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God" - This is the necessary conclusion of John when a person allows God's word to reign in their heart just as the Psalmist stated in Psalm 119:11: "Your word have I hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against you." A person cannot sin if his heart is settled in the right direction on living for the Lord. He intends to live out that new life of righteousness and holiness.



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